Going Viral on Social Media: Integrating Digital Tools into Pharmacy Rotations


In the latest Bench to Bedside column, 2 clinicians discuss the benefits of utilizing social media for learning.

Given its portability and natural integration in our daily lives, social media (such as X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, YouTube, and podcasts, often serves as the most accessible and interactive digital resource to promote clinical concepts and disseminate evidence-based medicine.1,2 Within pharmacy education, studies have demonstrated a positive association between social media integration in the classroom and student test scores as well as student perspectives on learning.1,3-5

In these cases, repetition of material in a social media format is used as a strategy to refresh students’ memory of previously taught material, improve knowledge retention, and encourage content discourse. While the learning, networking, and collaborative value within social media is realized in these scenarios, pharmacy students are not regularly exposed to social media as a professional resource.1,2

Fortunately, given the widely available digital resources within the Infectious Diseases (ID) social media spheres, ID experiential rotations are primed to provide students with valuable experience in utilizing social media in a professional setting.2,6 Engagement on social media can occur both synchronously and asynchronously through use of hashtags. The #IDJclub is a decentralized, live discussion centered around potentially practice changing articles typically held 1-2 times per month.7 Clinicians and learners can join the live conversation or follow up later by searching for the hashtag. In a study assessing its impact, participants felt that this chat was more useful than traditional journal clubs, provided clinically relevant knowledge, and increased their confidence in assessing literature. Topic-based “chats”, such as #ASPChat, provide additional opportunities for synchronous discussion, peer learning, and networking. Hashtags can also be used for asynchronous learning and networking.

Students on an ID advanced pharmacy practice experience were asked to identify “one thing I learned today” and post it to X including #OTILT and a link to a supporting reference. This activity provided an opportunity for learners to practice daily reflection, drug information skills, and conciseness to meet the 280-character limit. Use of the hashtag was organically adopted by learners at other sites, providing opportunities for networking as well.8 Use of other hashtags such as #IDDailyPearl can provide similar reflection and learning opportunities while #IDTwitter, #TxID, or #TwitteRx allow for networking and interaction among peers.9

The integration of other social media platforms into learning experiences is less well described.2 The image-based nature of Instagram allows learners to experience (or create their own) effective infographics while TikTok may provide an opportunity for public health messaging or better understanding of patient views around healthcare and infectious diseases.10,11

While less interactive, podcasts, such as SIDP Breakpoints or the Infectious Disease Puscast, provide learners opportunities to gain exposure to novel or controversial topics in ID that they can then discuss on other social media platforms, bringing it full circle. Regardless of the platform, social media integration within ID experiential rotations is feasible and can be utilized to enrich students’ learning and peer engagement.


1. Sterling M, Leung P, Wright D, Bishop TF. The use of social media in graduate medical education: a systematic review. Acad Med 2017; 92:1043–56.

2. Saman Nematollahi and others, The Digital Classroom: How to Leverage Social Media for Infectious Diseases Education, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 74, Issue Supplement_3, 15 May 2022, Pages S237–S243, https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciac048

3. Atallah, S., Mansour, H., Dimassi, H. et al. Impact of social media education on antimicrobial stewardship awareness among pharmacy, medical and nursing students and residents. BMC Med Educ 23, 446 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04423-w

4. Prudencio, J., Wongwiwatthananukit, S., Lozano, A., & Xu, Y. (2021). Instagram as a tool to enhance pharmacy student learning of ambulatory care pharmacy. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 13(2), 134-138.

5. Hamilton LA, Franks A, Heidel RE, McDonough SL, Suda KJ. Assessing the Value of Online Learning and Social Media in Pharmacy Education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2016;80(6):97. doi:10.5688/ajpe80697

6. King M, Dionne B. Twitter for pharmacy students studying infectious diseases: Useful or a waste of time? IDStewardship. April 9, 2019. Accessed August 9, 2023. https://www.idstewardship.com/twitter-pharmacy-students-studying-infectious-dis eases-useful-waste-time/.

7. Schwartz IS, McCarty T, Woc-Colburn LE, Titanji BK, Cutrell JB, Cortes-Penfield NW. Educational Impact of #IDJClub, a Twitter-Based Infectious Diseases Journal Club. Clin Infect Dis. 2022 May 15;74(Suppl_3):S244-S250.

8. Research and Education Poster Abstracts Presented at the 123rd Virtual Annual Meeting of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, July 23-27, 2022. Am J Pharm Educ. 2022;86(5):9171.

9. Cowell AN, Wooten D. 2537. #IDDailyPearl: a Twitter tool to enhance literature engagement on busy infectious diseases consult services. Open Forum Infect Dis 2019; 6:S882.

10.Gauthier TP, Spence E. Instagram and clinical infectious diseases. Clin Infect Dis 2015; 61:135–6.

11. Evans E, Gory LB, O'Kane A. TikTok: An Opportunity for Antibiotic Education? Innov Pharm. 2022 Dec 26;13(4):10.24926/iip.v13i4.4916.

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